Saturday, September 01, 2007

Radio One More Time: Laura's First Love

Radio One never embraced drama. While Radio 2 fought bravely with Waggoner's Walk and even Piccadilly Radio in Manchester had a stab at building a soap with a series set in a taxi firm, the Nation's Favourite never felt the need. Perhaps the torrid excitement of Our Tune was considered to be enough for the audience, or maybe Dave Lee Travis and his tales from his farm were meant to fill the gap.

Which is why it never quite made sense for Steve Wright to launch a parody soap opera in his show. Even more inexplicably, the Wright soap, Laura's First (and Second) Love chose to take the piss out of US daytime and radio soaps which, while ripe for targeting, weren't all that familiar in Britain at the time. Perhaps in these post Sunset Beach and Ugly Betty days, the source material might be more obvious, but in the early 80s, convoluted plots about Nazis and "a certain Goldstein millions" didn't seem to be a deliberate over-inflation of an already campy genre, and just sounded like odd plotlines for their own sake. A parody reduced to a sitcom.

A pity, though, because it was a loving parody - clearly, Wright's salary had allowed for a lot of transatlantic holidays, the bulk of which had been spent following All My Children and Passions. In fact, relying on the audience having spent enough time in the US soaking up daytime television in numbers large enough to make what was a very extended joke work illustrated the same problem that DLT's "my farm" monologues did - Radio One's daytime DJs were, by their success and ability to charge a small fortune for personal appearances, doomed to always grow away from their audiences, to never be able to quite relate to the people they were broadcasting to. When they arrived at Eaton Place from the nursery slopes of local radio, new DJs would still dress like, live like, react like their listeners. But with a year or two of success, a recurring slot on Top of the Pops and a few Brentford Nylon ads under their belt, that common touch would be gone and, ultimately, be as impossible to recapture as that first love of Laura's.